A Collective Theory of Happiness: Words Related to the Word Happiness in Swedish Online Newspapers

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Background: A central theme in media psychology is how certain contemporary and dominant views may tend to perpetuate themselves by presenting a recurring picture we humans use to form our knowledge about the world. The present study is based on 1.5 million words from articles published online in the Swedish daily newspapers in 2010. We investigated which words were most (un-)common in articles containing the word happiness, compared with articles that did not contain this word.
Findings: Words related to people as portrayed by all pronouns (you and me along us and them among the most recurrent), important others (e.g., grandmother, mother), the Swedish royal wedding (e.g., Daniel, Victoria), the FIFA World Cup (e.g., Zlatan, Argentina, Drogba) were highly recurrent with the word happiness. At the other end, words related to things were predictive of context not recurrent with the word happiness, such as money (e.g., millions, billions), bestselling gadgets (e.g., iPad, iPhone), and companies (e.g., Google, Windows).
Conclusions: The results presented here map on those findings in the happiness literature showing that relationships, not material things, makes people happy. We suggest our findings mirror a collective theory of happiness, that is, an shared picture or agreement across members of a community about what makes people happy — people not things. This consensus influences the content of newspapers and recursively feed the collective theory of happiness itself.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Psykologi


Sidor (från-till)469-472
TidskriftCyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking
Utgåva nummer6
StatusPublished - 2013
Peer review utfördJa

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Sverker Sikström


Projekt: Forskning

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